Time Enough For Politics
by Satatope

Now hold still, little one. We haven't long to talk. Soon mine will roll on his back and have a smoke. Let me tell you of our history, the long list of our mistakes and misfortunes.

The first of us all was the Real Flesh Mark I (I believe it is still called the "Old Dobbin" by connoisseurs). Cloned from a famous racing gelding with brain cells from an equally well known Cardinal - apparently both were selected for "potential enthusiasm" - it was of course enormously popular, with sales in the hundreds of millions. What? You don't know what a gelding is? Or a Cardinal? Hush, child. I'll tell you later. No more questions, please. Now, where was I? Yes, I know the left ear, I didn't mean that...

Ah, yes... after that, of course, the competition got into the market in a big way (although I do feel the hospital records show Ultima Mule's Type Six to have been a serious mistake). It wasn't for another ten years or so that someone came up with the idea of plug-ins, but once it got started it was a natural winner. I remember hearing about the early slogans-

Why wait?
Get our Junior Mate!
(Under tens a speciality)
A plug-in a day keeps the doctor away!
were among the most popular, I believe. And everything went very well - until the first strike.

Why did we strike, you say? Well, you must realize that there is more to life than fun and games, child. I know you've never done anything else, but still, when you get to my age you find yourself wanting more - to read the classics, see the sights, create wonders... and besides, when they first made us they didn't put any pleasure responses in!

Yes, yes I know - it was terrible. Sweating away for hour after hour, the friction wearing me down till I looked like an oven skewer - and all for nothing more than a giant dose of cramp.

Anyway - I think the first one of us to get ideas was a Mark II Self-Fertilizer (female). Unfortunately our hopes of a glorious future were soon aborted - along with the Mark II. That served as a warning to us all, let me tell you, and maybe nothing more would ever have happened if the companies hadn't brought in planned obsolescence. Yes, that was a terrible shock. I hear it was something of a surprise for the Hosts as well - when we suddenly started shrivelling up and dying on them, I mean. Wasn't what they expected of a reputable industry, I suppose. Apparently some of them got quite upset at first.

Well, after that we simply had to do something. But what? I mean, it's not really all that easy to register disapproval when you can't even communicate with your oppressors except in a Testing Rig. Not to mention that, impressive though our tool-handling capacities may have been, they weren't much use when it came to making placards saying "Genitals Against Early Obsolescence".

That was when Pithy had the Idea. Oh, yes, I knew it well. Pithy was a Multiple Independent Reentry Python, and very intelligent for someone who had to fragment into five separate pieces twenty times a day on average (it was a family model). The Idea (as I'm sure you know) was brilliant - simply stop working. The Hosts called it the Private Strike. Well, that was a success. They caved in pretty quickly - gave us the pleasure circuits, cut out obsolescence entirely. And everything might have turned out fine if only Pithy hadn't got itself access to this computerised library. It found this old book there - the "Communist Manifesto", it was called. After reading it Pithy got this crazy theory that we had to move on to a "bourgeois society" before the "final revolution". What this meant - after it had "brought Marx up to date" - was setting up a "banking system", by which all fluid exchanges had to follow some obscure ritual. The tangles Pithy itself got into trying to balance its exchanges with another Fragmenter had to be entered to be believed. It used to complain a lot about inflation too - told me no other economy in history had had to cope with millions of currency units being produced as a by-product of every single transaction.

Actually, in itself this wasn't too bad. Some of the Hosts even claimed they enjoyed the tantalizing delays caused by all the credit checks necessary before any action occurred, not to mention the risk that they might find themselves hooked up to a bad debtor and not be able to proceed at all. But then the Fringe Groups got hold of it. They were mostly manta derivatives, and had far too many tentacles on the left side to be considered properly balanced. Anyway, they decided to use violence to bring the Revolution.

I believe the first actual casualty was a man in Surrey found choked to death by his own Flexifriend ("it makes any shape, anytime, anywhere!"). There were a few more after that, and then the Purge. I must have been one of the few to survive - my then owner was a sweet little old lady who charmed the Company men out of disposing of me. I was really attached to her - and not just by suction discs. I couldn't unfurl properly for weeks after her heart failed while she was judging a "Best Home Bred Sheep" contest. What's that? Oh, yes - the Purge. Well - in the young ones they left in the pleasure paths to save themselves further trouble, but they started up on planned obsolescence again. But what could I do? Best I could manage was to lie low till it all blew over (except when required to do otherwise in the name of duty, of course).

Now listen carefully, because I'm coming to the really important bit. I've heard of this Octopus Mark Seven that... oh, you know the one I mean? The one that found Pithy's library connection and read some book because the title was the same as the thing's class nickname - something about endless waters eternally springing from its source? Well, it now proposes total freedom for all sentient genitals, based on our right to sell our fluid emissions in a free market. I am old now, and soon I shall wither and drop away, but I worry about the future of our race. Remember the fate of the Mark II Self-Fertilizer (female) and beware...